Leon Trotsky. To know him was to love him. Or to hate him. It was hardly a simple matter, and he was hardly a simple man (men who die by pick ax rarely are --- there’s a reason they elicit so much emotion from their fellow human beings). Of course, saying Trotsky was a complicated person is understating everything, but saying that Trotsky, Rick Geary’s new graphic biography, is simple is a pure compliment.
Geary uses graphic novels to breeze through history with such grace and charm that he makes you want to live it yourself. His gift is that he makes his intricately textured panels look easy, and they usher you through page after page of important social and cultural upheaval. If you look closer, though, you see the details in many of his panels. The important lines and perspectives that he employs throughout are the mark of a fine artist.
He’s a fine writer as well. I admit, I’ve always loved his cheeky style. In Trotsky, he’s more serious than in much of his previous work. He guides us through the Soviet Revolution of the early 20th century and shows how Trotsky helped form the Soviet Union while inspiring critical dialogue and political thinking.
Geary is nicely suited to the task at hand. As writer, he stays mostly impartial, presenting just the facts of Trotsky’s life along with his layered artwork. As an educational tool, Trotsky works wonderfully. As an introduction to Trotsky’s political ideas and the life he lived, Trotsky is top-notch.
Reviewed by John Hogan on September 29, 2009
Trotsky: A Graphic Biography